Layers of Life


It’s been a long time since I’ve written here. And yet this seems like the right place to be today.

This morning I went looking for a picture of Mom to share. I found one. What I didn’t expect to find was everything else. All of the pictures and papers and memorabilia that serve as reminders of what she shared with us. All of the pictures and papers and memorabilia of the things she hasn’t shared with us.

Then I found the bulletin from her funeral in which we were reminded of what she shared with us in her life here on earth, what she wanted to share with us in her death, and what we will share with her in eternity.

I had forgotten – not what we had celebrated that evening. Not her faith. Not her life. But I had forgotten how much she had chosen to share with us that day, the words and music that she held dear to her heart – words and music that I hold dear to my heart, words and music that I had forgotten we sang that evening. She shared her Savior. I won’t easily forget now.

10 years. A decade past.

So much has happened in that time. Two more kids. Two major moves. Two new jobs. Thousands of moments I would have loved to share. A lot of time. And yet… And yet there’s an eternity to look forward to.

10 years. And that much closer to seeing each other again.

If you’ve followed me at all on this blog, you know that my love for baking can be traced in part to my mom. At Christmas she always made layered mint bars. They’re still a family favorite, as my siblings and I continue to make them. Another favorite recipe of hers was a Buckeye Cake. So rich. So decadent. So delicious.

I’ve merged the two – not into a mint and peanut butter concoction, because (in the words of my four-year-old) that would be disgusting – but into a bar form that’s easily shared. Easily eaten. Easily loved.

This one’s for Mom.

Buckeye Bars

  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 – 2/3 cup brown sugar 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 – 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder


  • 1-1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9×13″ baking dish (cooking spray is fine).

Heat butter in medium microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute or until melted.  Add water, sugar, and 1/2 cup chocolate chips and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Stir in eggs and vanilla until well combined.  Add flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.  Stir in 3/4 cup chocolate chips.

Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 18-25 minutes or until edges are browned and start to pull away from pan, and toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean (a few fudgy crumbs stick to the toothpick).

Cool on wire rack.

While brownie layer is cooling, mix all filling ingredients together in medium bowl. Spread over cooled brownie layer.

In microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, melt butter and chocolate chips for 1 minute. Stir. If needed, heat for 15 second intervals until melted and smooth. Spread over peanut butter filling. Let topping set. Cut and serve.

Wheatless Wednesday – Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

Wheatless Wednesday – Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

Yesterday it snowed enough to cover everything in a couple of inches of white.  The sun is out today, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.  I’m going to pretend that it’s not bitterly cold out.  (I’m also going to pretend that it hasn’t been a year since I last posted.)

I’m a big fan of price-reduced items. Whether end caps at Target or tags-still-attached thrift store items, I’m a sucker for a good deal.  It can be especially useful at the grocery store when feeding five growing children.

I also love sandwiches oozing with sauteed veggies, meat, and cheese.  But have you seen young children try to eat such things?  Sometimes it’s easier to put things in an edible bowl.

So, when our local store happened to mark down mushrooms and peppers on the day I was shopping, I took advantage of the situation to create something new.  Colorful, flavorful, and easy to pull together, this meal may leave you with a taste of summer in the midst of a cold snap.  Fork and knife optional.


Three peppers for 99 cents!


Everything looks lovely smothered in cheese.


Cooked through.  The key is to just heat the peppers through.  One of the things most people dislike about stuffed peppers are the mushy peppers.  By cutting them in half, you can easily stuff them and allow them to retain some crispness–and flavor.


Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

  • 3-4 bell peppers, any color
  • 1 lb. ground beef (90% lean preferred)
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • crushed potato chips (optional)
  1. Wash and cut peppers in half, removing seeds, stems, and ribs.  Place on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or in a 9×13″ baking dish.  Set aside.
  2. Place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. In large skillet, brown ground beef over medium to medium-high heat until no longer pink.  Place in large bowl. Add rice.
  4. Heat vegetable oil in now-empty skillet until shimmering.  Add onion and mushrooms; cook until softened, about 6 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.
  5. Carefully add milk, cornstarch mixture, salt, pepper, basil, and Worcestershire sauce.  Stir constantly until mixture thickens.  Add 1 cup of each cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese.
  6. Pour mixture over meat and rice; mix until thoroughly combined.  Spoon mixture into peppers.  Divide remaining cheese over peppers (you may very well want to add more).
  7. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.  Top with potato chips, if desired. Serve.